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Conditioning: Peak Performance

Top sports teams use fitness equipment to create an effective regime of strength and conditioning work. We take a look at how these elite teams are maximising their chances of success with the right kit

Published in Sports Management 2019 issue 2
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Sheffield United Football Club Supplier: Wattbike

For football managers and coaches, preparing their players for the demands of the pitch, structuring their team’s year-round training correctly and making accurate comparisons between players, makes all the difference to their prospects and performance.

Sheffield United has had a fantastic season, being promoted into the Premier League as one of the top two teams. Lee McMahon, the team’s head of sport science, explains that the Wattbike has been key to their success.

"Footballers experience a high level of exercise stress," says McMahon. "At times, the external stress can impact the continuity of the periodised training we assign. Off-feet conditioning using the Wattbike gives us the opportunity to use continuous training, while reducing the external impact stress on joints and muscles from load bearing exercise."

"Footballers experience a high level of exercise stress and off-feet conditioning on the Wattbike reduces this"

Like other EFL and Premier League clubs, Sheffield United uses specific programmes for every player, based on their Wattbike fitness test results. This means measured, repeatable training with performance data available at the coaches’ disposal.

"We believe in collecting as much information about each player as possible. These parameters allow us to adopt an evidence-based approach when it comes to designing each player’s conditioning."

It’s not just about off-feet training either, says McMahon. "From my experience, players in long-term rehab really enjoy the Wattbike sessions."

"I think the key to using the Wattbike is educating people about its benefits. I think it’s a revelation to each player that once we have undertaken the Wattbike tests, every session is tailored to their individual capabilities."

Sheffield United is using the Wattbike for off-feet training
Renault F1 Supplier: Matrix Fitness

Matrix Fitness has recently announced the renewal of its long-term partnership with Renault F1 Team.

Matrix supports the team’s Human Performance Centre – a purpose-built training and sports science facility – with fitness equipment, including the Matrix 7xi Series CV equipment and products from Matrix’ Magnum and Ultra strength ranges.

Latest additions include the Matrix S-Drive and S-Force Performance Trainers, the Matrix CXP Indoor Cycles and Connected Solutions.

David Thompson, strength and conditioning expert at Renault’s Human Performance Centre, comments: "We’re very fortunate to have a lot of top-of-the-range equipment from Matrix. We try to create as many specific training methodologies as possible for our drivers and race team, to equip them with uncompromising conditioning. Our goal is to make sure the drivers will arrive at the race being the fittest on the grid, so that’s one element they won’t need to worry about when they arrive on track.

"We create as many specific training methodologies as possible, to equip drivers with uncompromising conditioning"

"We focus on the driver’s neck, upper body and forearms, as well as core and trunk strengthening and stabilisation. We use a combination of isometric and concentric loads for neck training, as well as rotational forces to cope with the high g-forces drivers will endure on track. We also use a range of Olympic lifts and general compound lifts to increase explosive power and eccentric loading to cope with high break pressures over a race distance.

"Motorsport is an industry at the forefront of design and technology and with high expectations. By having the most bio-mechanically sound and versatile equipment, we can enhance strength and conditioning programmes, focusing on specific goals."

Renault F1 is the longest running contract in the Matrix portfolio
British Rowing Supplier: Concept2
British Rowing uses Concept 2 rowing machines, BikeErgs and SkiErgs to supplement training

Concept2 has been working with British Rowing for many years, supporting grassroots participation – both on water and indoor rowing – alongside providing training and racing equipment to the GB Rowing Team.

The GB Rowing Team uses Concept2 products on a daily basis – from the oars on the water to the rowing machines in the gym. The GB Rowing Team also uses Concept2 BikeErgs and SkiErgs to supplement training or to mix things up during rehab.

As a high-volume training sport, both elite rowers and active club rowers spend many miles on the Concept2 Indoor Rower.

"The key benefits to using a rowing machine are that it’s low impact and can be adapted to suit the needs of the user"

Double world champion rower and founder of RowElite, Mat Tarrant says: "The main reason we use Concept2 equipment is because of its reliability. A large part of the squad would have learnt to row on land and water using Concept2 equipment, and it’s never let us down."

Tarrant added: "The key benefits to using a rowing machine over other pieces of gym equipment are that it’s low impact, it works the entire body and it can be adapted to suit the needs of the user, whether that’s through feet height positioning, resistance or catering for an individual with disabilities.”

World champion Mat Tarrant says a large part of the GB rowing squad would have learned to row on Concept 2
Watford Football Club Supplier: Precor
The Queenax rig at Watford Football Club is used for competitive group training by adult and youth teams

Watford Football Club uses a Queenax rig in its fitness suite, to maximise strength and functional fitness exercise and accommodate large numbers of players who are training for both the Premier League team and youth teams.

When training at such an elite level, the Queenax delivers an efficient solution, with the variety of apps and optional extras giving coaches a range of training exercises to progress players’ abilities. Customised, integrated squat racks deliver additional performance training capabilities.

Players use the suspended platform to enhance motor control, improve balance and rhythm, develop body awareness and mental engagement, as well as strength.

The punch bag is used to train rotation, deceleration and reaction, while at the same time improving aerobic fitness and core stability.

"Players enjoy lining up against each other and often race on the ladder structure to see who can do the quickest monkey cross"

The Queenax gives the club the ability to work numerous players at one time. With daily gym usage varying from between three and 12 players, its versatility ensures sessions can be completed efficiently and correctly.

Lee Strafford, under 23 strength and conditioning coach at Watford FC, says: “The Queenax is highly versatile. The players enjoy working out on it and the more players we can get training at the same time the better. As well as being fun to use, it also builds team dynamics.”

True to their competitive nature, players enjoy lining up against each other and often use the ladder structure across the top of the Queenax to see who can do a monkey cross from one side to the other the quickest.

The Queenax rig at Watford Football Club is used for competitive group training by adult and youth teams

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